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Do you enjoy reading retellings of, or ‘sequels’ to, classic novels? Why or why not?
I think if you follow me at all, you probably already know the answer to the first part of this question. I do like retellings. Even if they’re a mixed bag usually and sometimes they don’t turn out so well, I keep getting excited when I hear there’s another retelling of a fairytale coming out.
For the classics… I’ve never actually read a ‘sequel’ or retelling of them. I did read part of one once, on the internet, but all it was was putting smut into a classic, so I’m not really sure this is that… But I’ve never read an actual sequel to a classic. Though I am interested in a few of them. Like Wicked. (But I think I’m waiting for the movie…) And Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (But, knowing me, I’d probably just watch the movie there, too. And I just finished the Ella, the Slayer series – about a zombie slayer Cinderella – and really can’t imagine that book holding a candle to Ella.)
Okay, so, I was just – as I was typing this out – doing a bit of research about sequels to classics and, I have read some. I’ve read some of the Sherlock Holmes stories by other authors. I’ve got at least four short story collections and one full length novel written by someone other than Doyle. Those totally count.
Now, as to why… I’ll answer the classics one first. I don’t read classic sequels because I seldom much care for the original classic enough to read more about/similar-to it. I can count the number of classics that I’ve enjoyed on one hand and have at least to fingers to spare: Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island and Sherlock Holmes. (Two of which I doubt I could reread and enjoy half as much as I did the first time around.) I have recently discovered (like, today) that there are a couple of sequels to Treasure Island – and I might have to read them. There’s also a type of prequel show to it in Black Sails that I will, eventually, be watching.
As for the retellings and why I like them so much, for me, it’s a case of expectations vs. creativity. Take for example the story of Cinderella – as, arguably, the best known fairytale. Every author starts with the same blueprint for their story: Cindersoot, evil step-mother and step-sisters, dead father, handsome prince – but no two stories are the same. You have the sci-fi, futuristic take of Cinder by Marissa Meyers, the ‘after the happy ending’ fantasy tale of The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines, the zombie fighting action of Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley and the steampunk career girl mentality of Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell.
Each story starts with the same Cinderella and each story gives us a happy ending, but, between that, each author put’s their own distinct spin on the characters and the plot. I love seeing the different ways authors use the same structure to tell their story and I love all the little hints and clues to the original tale that the authors pepper their stories with, the nods to the original, and, more than any of that, the assurance that – because they are still a fairytale – we will get a happy ending.
Do you read retellings or classic sequels?